Herring: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z

Today we move to the letter “H” in our Ingredient A to Z series and are featuring Herring as our ingredient of the day.

What is Herring?

Herring L

According to Wikipedia, Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae. They often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast.  Herring are small fish; Baltic herring range from 5.5- 7.5 inches long and the larger Atlantic herring  can get as large as 18 inches long.

Common names for Herring

The most common name variations of Herring are Atlantic herring, Pacific herring, Baltic herring, Sea herring, and sardine (which is part of the herring family).

Why is Herring included in pet food?

Herring is added to pet  food for two key reasons: 1) it is a quality source of protein and fat, 2) it provides Omega-3 fatty acids.

Common benefits or risks of Herring

Benefits: Herring are very high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They are also a good source of vitamin D.  Like other fish, Herring can help with a dog’s skin and coat, decrease inflammation, and aid the immune system.

Herring is a low calorie source of both protein and fat: 3.5 ounces of herring have about 158 kcals, 18 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat.

Cats, who tend to favor fish, are susceptible to developing sensitivities and even allergies to fish. Herring is a good choice for cats versus other larger fish like Salmon due to its more digestible skeleton.  It is generally not advisable to feed a cat a fish based diet, although it is normally fine to mix fish in occasionally.

Risks: As with some other ocean fish, water pollution has increased the levels of PCB and dioxin in Baltic Herring.

Miscellaneous facts about Herring

  • Herring have a single dorsal fin with no spine.
  • Herring are characterized by a protruding lower jaw, that looks like the jaw of a bull dog.
  • Herring have been a human food since 3000 BC.

Sources and further reading







Personalize your pet’s daily meals.

Feed the right amount each day with the SmartFeeder and SmartDelivery.